Open Journal of Philosophy
2013. Vol.3, No.1A, 178-184
Published Online February 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
The Concept of Feminist Justice in African Philosophy:
A Critical Exposition of Dukor’s Propositions
on African Cultural Values
Ani Casimir
Department of Philosophy, I nstitute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
Received October 8th, 2012; r evised November 10th, 2012; accepted November 24th, 2012
Having taken note of, and critically analyzed, Professor Maduabuchi Dukor’s epochal work entitled
“Theistic Humanism of African philosophy-the great debate on substance and method of philosophy”
(2010), I am much encouraged and rationally convinced that he has succeeded in building the core critical
and essential foundational pillars of what can safely pass for professional African philosophy, though
much remains to be done by way of further research from other scholars. Based upon that conviction and
the great prospects that the African philosophy project breakthrough holds for every African philosopher
in the global village, I am also motivated to take a closer look at, and carry out a critical exposition of the
concept of justice in the context of African cultural values, using the propositions of what he calls the
canons of cultural values that are native to African philosophy. These cultural values define African iden-
tity and delineate Africa’s contributions to the advancement of the global ideas of justice, axiology, gen-
der and globalization. The essence and methodology of this article, therefore, will lift the relevant the-
matic thrusts and arguments made by the erudite Professor of African philosophy to “properly locate Af-
rican philosophy in the context of globalism, cosmopolitanism, science and what it could contribute to
emerging global culture” (Dukor, 2010: p. ix). The central point of this critical exposition is that his theis-
tic inspired cultural humanism has enhanced the global understanding of not only justice but feminist
rights and the urgent needs for African philosophy to make its contributions towards the emancipation of
and empowerment of women both in the continent and globally. The feminist search for justice, according
to Dukor, is “the current global pool where the African is needed urgently to intervene”, since “feminism
and women liberation has truncated the equilibrium and balance of relations between man and woman.
African contribution to this class struggle between man and woman is a neutral one that absorbs the man
and woman to their respective natural places in the nature’s womb”. Women’s search for global justice
and the struggle to have their human rights recognized as a part of mankind’s gender balancing process
would be philosophically enriched by Professor Dukor’s cultural value propositions and canons of justice.
Keywords: African Philosophy; Justice; Gender; Feminism; African Cultural Values
All the rigorous and well made arguments marshaled out by
scholars to defend and project African philosophy have pre-
pared the ground for the establishment of African identity, the
African personality, the African values and how, as a corpus of
knowledge stretching over the millennia has, in its own right,
sought to contribute positively to the growth of world knowl-
edge in philosophy, science and other areas of human endeavor.
African philosophy has therefore entered a new pro-active
phase of its growth when more rigorous and profound creative
epistemic efforts needed to be made in defining the knowledge
portals where it could contribute seminally to global philosophy
and help in the solution of problems that challenge mankind
such as de-valuation of morals and values, globalization and
injustice against women. Professor Dukor (2010: p. vii) elabo-
rates on this pro-active, global and creative responsibility of
African philosophy which makes it to be outward bound in its
majestic march towards global documentation, identity and
recognition as an authentic philosophy and philosophizing from
Africans and western scholars interested in studying African
It is important to note that the vigorous and strenuous ef-
forts exerted in defense of African philosophy produced
arguments in defense of African freedom. Yet African
philosophy is not a reclusive philosophy that subsists as a
philosophy of primitive or ancient people of Africa or the
philosophy of Africans that serves the aesthetics, ethical,
political, social and technological needs of the Africans
alone. It is a philosophy of the post-modern age justified
and sanctioned by postmodernism as doctrine of post-
imperialist new world order. In some unique and particu-
lar sense, African philosophy in the global village high-
lights some special features of what I call theistic human-
ism in all areas of human life—aesthetics, ethics and sci-
ence—which l think are of global significance and could
make the earth a better place for human habitat. African
philosophy in the global village is therefore theistic hu-
manism of African philosophy and secondly cosmopolitan
philosophy. In this postmodern era, international commu-
nity recognizes what individuals, societies; nations could
contribute to united world. Under the current aegis of the
United Nations, periods and dispersions of slavery, colo-
nialism and racism are now bygone eras. The regime of
superiority of “our races over the rest and the dominations
of the “other” with the ideology of monotheistic reason
have all been castrated by the superior postmodern reason
that every culture has a legitimate place in a free world.
Above all, every culture has something to contribute to
values, literature or history, science and technology. Afri-
can philosophy in the global village as a cosmopolitan
philosophy therefore contributes meaningfully to the
world’s ethical, literary and scientific heritage. This the
sense in which we discuss the African philosophical con-
tributions in axiology, literature and science.
The morphology of axiological values are informed and un-
der girded from the animistic and transcendental epistemology
of African philosophy which help to define the African concept
of identity, justice and human cultural values. The works of
Professor Dukor which capture these philosophical pillars are
“artistic symbols and aesthetic values in African philosophy”
(2009); proposition of African cultural values’ (2010); “the
concept of justice in African philosophy” (2006); and “African
philosophy in the global village—which embodies and captures
the essential philosophy of all the foregoing works in their pro-
activity, creativity, existentialism and their pan psychic ration-
ality. The point is that the concepts of art and aesthetic values
flow naturally from the African man’s concept of God and his
understanding of the universe of his nature, environment and
society. This is the quidity of theistic humanism and meta-
physic of the African that is well embedded in philosophy. The
African mind, which is at the heart of the philosophical enter-
prise has axiological values that “uphold fundamental human
rights and consensual democracy and defines the concept of
justice from an animistic and communal perspectives” (Dukor:
p. viii). According to Dukor: “the same transcendental and
animistic foundation and paradigm define the complexion of
arts and aesthetics in African philosophy”. In furthering this
idea, we must take a research note that Professor Dukor’s con-
cept of “pan psychic rationality” evolved earlier and was first
captured in the following works “theistic pan psychic rational-
ity of African History”; “theistic pan-psychic communicative
Rationality” and “Life-Here-after Poetics and metaphysics”. In
his words, Professor Dukor elaborates on this concept of pan-
psychic ra tionality with a deep thematic emphasis on i ts perva-
sive and cross-cutting penetration of African conceptual moulds,
values, mores, attitudes and approaches to the process of phi-
The idea of theistic pan psychic rationality is meant to be
used to justify every facet of study in African philoso-
phy—we call it theistic pan psychic because the frame-
work of understanding for understanding the African
mind is both theistic and pan psychic are irreconcilable
factors in Christianity and some philosophies. Literature
is the mirror of a people’s experience and life using the
medium of language propositions poetry. African litera-
ture incidentally is suffused and characterized by theistic
animism and pan psychism so also is its history. Because
of its God—intoxicated nature, the African history, litera-
ture and means of communication are theistic, pantheistic,
communistic and pan psychic.
It is in the light of these theistic and pan psychic foundational
values and established foundational features of African phi-
losophy that one should start thinking and working towards the
role African philosophy should play in solving not only the
traditional problems of philosophy but also the challenges fac-
ing mankind in the 21 century. The pillars and canons of theis-
tic humanism and pan psychism combine to define, inform,
under gird and underpin African philosophy so that scholars
and philosophers of African descent should be motivated to
start thinking of reconstructing the role and contributions of the
discipline in bettering the lot of humanity in the new millen-
nium. The significance of African philosophy in the global
village can only be determined, assessed and evaluated by its
evidence based contributions towards enhancing the quality of
human discourse; which enhancement could only come about
through its millennia-distilled cultural and axiological values
that distinguish its humanism, humanness and humanity. What
should be the contributions of African philosophy towards the
global village and human development? In response, Professor
Dukor’s works in this direction which sought to help us to de-
termine this equation are well documented and used in Univer-
sity Faculties globally: “Globalization and African identity”
(2008); “Feminism in theistic humanism” (2007); “Epistemol-
ogy of outer space” (2009); “Symbol and symbolism in info-
Tech epistemology” (2008); and, “Philosophy and African sal-
vation” (2007). Describing the content of the template of what
should be the role of African philosophy was wired through the
basic stream of Professor Dukor’s vision for African philoso-
phy in the global village, as captured by him in the introduction
of the book, “African philosophy in the global villag”:
The vision of this work is to locate African philosophy in
the context of globalism, cosmopolitanism, and science
and what it could contribute to the emerging global cul-
ture. The practices of retrogressive cultures and traditions
have been responsible for the lack of African science and
the inability of the Africans to contribute to scientific
growth. Many factors like atavism, selfishness, witchcraft
and sorcery have contributed a lot to the retardation of
African civilization not only to science but also to the
epistemology or science of the outer spaces, where the
local folks have perfected somewhat the artistic and mys-
tical vehicles for journey to and from outer spaces. An-
other area of the current global pool where the African is
needed urgently to intervene is the area of feminism and
women liberation which has truncated the equilibrium and
balance of relations between man and woman. African
contribution to this class struggle between man and
woman is a neutral one that absorbs the man and the
woman to their repesctive natural places in the nature’s
womb (Dukor: p. ix).
Professor Dukor’s theistic and humanistic propositions on
African cultural values and categories form the bedrock of the
African conceptual approach to African identity, feminism and
the place of African philosophy in achieving human develop-
ment under the rapid march of globalization. A Critical exposi-
tion of these propositions should constitute the focus of the
article for further elucidation.
Propositions on African Cultural Values 15-18
In the first place there is no uniformity of African cultural
values in the way one could accept the uniformity of western or
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 179
Islamic cultural values that established the western or Islamic
concepts of jurisprudence, laws or justice. This does not negate
the fact that one could effectively write or accept the existence
of values that are inherently African with a multiplicity and
diversity that summarizes common essentials. The reason flows
principally from the fact that they are ontological, ontic and
epistemic (Dukor: p. 15). In other words, African values are
concerned with moral normative values in the cultural sense.
The African concept of value goes beyond and is deeper than
the western ethical conception of value since every thing in
African world view has a value or worth ascribed to it from its
ontological relationship with God and the universe of beings.
Throwing more light to this unique sense of values, Professor
Dukor writes:
Value is such a broad concept that mistake is often made
when seen only from the point of ethical values. However,
the values of a people go beyond ethics to values of tech-
nology, architecture, food habit, poetry, music, sculpture,
painting, farming, swimming and a whole of arts. These
are values while the later belong to what is called moral
normative value.
Going further to throw more light to this concept of value in
African philosophy is important. As such Igboin (2011: p. 1)
gives another supportive and penetrating insight to that of Dukor:
Values may be ideas that propel man’s daily actions. In
other words, they are the standard which members of the
community adhere to in their personal and communal in-
teraction towards the achievement of the goals. It is they
that determine those who are to be praised or reprimanded
for their actions. In another sense, values refer to what is
“good” or “desired”. In the descriptive sense, value can
mean the worth of something as when an article is evalu-
ated. Values can be institutional and cherished by indi-
vidual and by a group of people. Values can refer to the
usefulness of a thing which is a function of choice-making.
That is, there are options opened to one from which a
choice is made. In so far as values are universal, they can
be material, spiritual, religious, moral, aesthetic, commu-
nal or individualistic. Another feature is that values are
found in all religions. People’s values are largely based
upon traditional religious and moral principles that they
cling to. Values can be influenced by what we see and
Supporting Professor Dukor’s concept of African values is
the views of Kwame Gyekye as reviewed by Lolli (2010) in her
blog’ Around the world’ wherein Gyekye has identified reli-
gious values, family values, aesthetic values as central to Afri-
can society. Each value is illuminated through the use of often-
repeated African proverbs and folktales, as well as anecdotal
and historical examples of the value in practice. This is a
unique value which, according to Lolli, Kwame Gyekye illus-
trates in the following way:
Africans recognize the dignity of the human being and, in
consequence, hold a deep and unrelenting concern for
human welfare and happiness … Recognition of the value
of humanity is intrinsically linked with recognition of the
unity of all people, whether or not they are biologically
related” (p. 23). To underline his point, Gyekye quotes an
old Akan maxim: “It is the human being that counts; I call
upon gold, it answers not; I call upon cloth, it answer not;
it is the human being that counts.
African cultural values could be propositioned into catego-
ries through “logical analysis in terms of propositions, predica-
tion and entailement and finally into magisterial, legislative and
universal law-like statements or propositions which can be true
or false” (Dukor). In this direction, consequently, one could
state that are different categories of cultural values in Africa.
There are two main categories of African cultural values as
identified by this perspective which are-the moral normative
values and the non-moral normative values. The first set are
those ethical or axiological values whereas the second set con-
stitute aesthetic and artistic values that define the non-moral
normative values found in African philosophy embedded in
folklores, proverbs and wise sayings on one hand and on the
other hand are propositions within the kinship or communalistic
system (Dukor: pp. 15-16). The unique concept of African cul-
tural values has a dialectical relationship with theistic human-
ism as propounded by Professor Maduabuchi Dukor as it the
defining principle of African cultural values and from it springs
what he calls community values such as kinship, extended fam-
ily, communitarianism and social values. At the same time
theistic humanism gives rise to the second set known as aes-
thetic values such as food and work habit, agricultural and ar-
chitectural values, music, artistic values and celebration of life.
He called the first set “community consciousness” while he
called the second as “aesthetic consciousness” with both having
their roots in “the religious, scientific and existential value”
which he called theistic humanism. Both consciousness—the
community and the aesthetic—complement and supplement
each as they are not exclusive but inclusive in their functional
cooperation, collaboration and synergy in maintaining the hap-
piness, peace, security and progress of the African society.
The African Concept of Justice
The concept of justice in African is based on communalistic,
folk and communitarian values and permeate the entire spec-
trum of African society, culture and affecting the African ap-
proach to human development. Though it is a reflection of Af-
rican values, it still approximates to the western concept of
justice (Dukor, 2010: p. 21). Various studies and researches
confirm this proximity and aproximity between the African and
the western concepts of justice as reflected in the works of Pro-
fessor Dukor, Okafor and Oraegbunam. In the views of Profes-
sor Dukor, this is more explicit in the works of Rouseau and
Close study shows that in pre-political African societies
the concept of justice is similar to John Locke’s and
Rouseau’s ideas. Locke’s state of nature is not as violent
as that of Hobbes’. He believes that there is no natural
proclivity for men to hurt one another other. For Hobbes
no steps on somebody’s toes just for the fun but only to
get an advantage: quite characteristic of his state of nature
as “men living together according to reason, without a
common superior on earth with authority to judge be-
tween them”. This state of peace, goodwill, mutual assis-
tance and preservation hunges on the law of nature. In J. J
Rouseau Emile, the idea of the natural man is that man is
by nature good. If he is wicked it is because bad upbring
and environment have corrupted him. He says: God
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
makes all things good; man meddles with them and be-
comes evil’. In his social contract he says “man was born
free and every where he is in chains”. Both Locke’s and
Rouseau’s ideas of man’s natural goodness collided with
the traditional doctrines of original sin and redemption,
and more importantly, with the traditional African thought
on man’s natural goodness and initial communion with
God. Various myths in Africa tell us that God once lived
among the people until man misused his freewill. These
myths not only illustrate the doctrine of original sin and
redemption but also show that God, like in the Roman and
Greek literatures, is the author of man and law as well as
the symbol of justice. The African idea of natural and law
is more or less the same with the ancient Roman or Greek
interpretation of the natural law and the scholastics (Tho-
mas Aquinas and St. Augustine) treatises on Divine laws
and justice. Hence for the African, the Roman or St
Augustine, God is the author of any law that is worth that
name and the precepts of law are discoverable by reason
or apriori.
In essence, Professor Dukor is emphasizing the fact that Af-
rican concept of justice flows from the the pillars of religion,
ethics and the supernatural in African philosophy. This where
the values that define the values of justice and permeate the
concept of gender. Thus the formulation and application of
justice draws from the folklore, myths and languages of the
African as identified in different cultures in Africa. For exam-
ple, according to Dukor (2010: p. 21) the “Igbo and Akran folk
philosophy is in accord with reason and x-rays a clear absence
of Hobbesian war order. Its ethical and political dynamics con-
stitute a check against loose control of the societal purpose. The
theory of communalism is clearly applicable to different groups
and norms of traditional African societies. The principle under-
lying this maxim is the celebrated utilitarian principle (of either
Bentham or Mill) that the greatest good of the majority must
always be sought; it also implies that the public necessity is
greater than private necessity”. The force of moral suasion and
personal responsibility makes it superfluous to call the police to
arrest people who have transgressed the communal laws that
define justice issues in African societies since the sense of
“moral responsibility, communalism or kinship takes care of
deviations” (Dukor, 2010: p. 17).
The same concept of justice as illustrated by Professor Du-
kor’s “theistic humanism-the African belief in the supernatural
beings and also man; the principle or doctrine designating Af-
rican ideas of man, God and the universe-inform also the ethi-
cal and juridical conception of gender justice and other aspects
of law in places like Igboland. The Igbo concept of justice is
embodied in the word-value known as “Omenani”—the laws of
the society according to the revelations from the elders or the
wise ones who are into touch with God and the universal be-
ings” (Ani, 2008: p. 23). This omenani is compared to Kelson’s
theory of justice by Oraegbunam (2011) and variously called
the “grundnorm”, “omenala”, “akankwumoto” (a just person);
“ikpekwumoto” (a just law or judgement). In the following
deposition, Oraegbunam not only agrees with Professor Du-
kor’s theistic humanistic basis of justice in African philosophy,
but also makes strong allusions to the proverbial intrusions and
extrusions of the law in pre-modern African societies thus:
Be that as it may, Nzomiwu observes that as the history of
the Igbo people progressed, the words “akankwumoto”
and “ikpenkwumoto” gathered a metaphorical and a more
comprehensive meaning. According to this development,
justice becomes any action that conforms to the omenala
(tradition), which constitutes the grundnorm, to use kel-
son’s terminology. Justice, thus, becomes conformity with
the requirements of the custom and tradition. A man who
keeps the injunctions of Omenala which contains the du-
ties of a citizen in all its ramifications is regarded as a just
man. In the same vein, the word “ikpenkwumoto” became
a judgement that conforms to the tradition (omenala). In
other words, any judgment that is not consistent with the
Omenala is not constitutional and as such null and void.
Such a judgment cannot be binding on any party. It
somewhat violates what the English law would call the
principle of “stare decisis” and it is bound to be unjust
(mmegbu) which condition aims at or attempts to deprive
one of his life or entitlements. Besides, the Igbo sense of
justice is quite condensed in Igbo oral tradition. Illustra-
tions from two of the sources of this tradition may be
helpful. Thus, justice is expressed in Igbo proverbs and
names. Let us take them one by one. Among the Igbo
people, the use of proverbs in the communication of ideas
is very invaluable. A proverb for them is a figure of
speech in which many lofty ideas and philosophy are
concealed and congealed. In referring to African proverbs,
Herskovits regards them as constituting the “grammar of
values”. 12 In proverbs are condensed the nitty gritties of
Igbo customs, ethical standards, traditional wisdom, and
wise sayings. For the Igbo, proverbs constitute the spice
or salt of human communication (nnu e ji eri okwu). Cer-
tainly, the Igbo understanding of justice in all its ramifica-
tions is well expressed in various proverbs. Let us now
give some instances of Igbo proverbs that explain differ-
ent aspects of Igbo conception of justice. Firstly, there is a
group of proverbs that emphasize the Igbo sociological
philosophy of live-and-let-live, harmony, peaceful coex-
istence, and consideration for the needs of others. Exam-
ples of these proverbs include “Egbe bere ugo bere nke si
ibe ya ebela nku kwapu ya” (let the kite perch and let the
eagle perch also, whichever (let the kite perch and let the
eagle perch also, whichever denies the other its perching
right, let its wings break off).
The African conception of justice according to Dukor is
therefore “philosophically presupposed in its divine conception
of natural law: natural and justice should be construed as being
the same with divine law and justice-this accounts for its con-
cept of divine justice in being more or less the same as that
found in the Greek and Roman worlds” (Dukor, 2010: p. 30).
Dukor concludes that “the corpus of African divine laws covers
rights and wrongs, duties and obligations (Dukor, 2010: p. 29);
there are two main ways of executing justice in a typical Afri-
can community—one is through the use of curse and the other
is through the use of formal oaths. The basic principle in the
use of curse is that if a person is guilty, evil will befall him
according to the words used in cursing him. The operative prin-
ciple is that only a person of higher moral and social status can
effectively curse one of a lower moral and social status but not
vice versa. Formal oaths are used as method of establishing and
maintaining good human relations. The due process of African
traditional law, like oath taking and so on, is no respecter of
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 181
persons. Every person is ontologically equal in the eyes of the
gods (Dukor, 2010: p. 28). Bolaji Idowu (1975; Dukor, 2010: p.
29) concurs philosophically and ontologically with Professor
Dukor on this theistic source and basis of the African concept
of justice:
The whole concept of justice is based upon the fact that
world belongs to a deity; that the social and moral orders
are his ordinance and that he is far above all divisions into
races, ethnic groups, clan differences or political parti-
Feminism in African Philosophy 147-156
The concept of feminist justice in African philosophy is
logically inclusive as well as naturally exclusive of the early
concepts of feminism in which women activists sought to dis-
rupt the natural order of nature by dissuading women from
marriage or giving birth, taking care of babies or carrying out
their natural domestic chores. I have argued seriously in a
presentation that basic African sense of justice flows from Af-
rican values of respect for womanhood as the physical repre-
sentation of mother earth that gave us birth and the being that
could complete the human hood of man through the mystery of
reproduction and complimentarity (Ani C, 2007: pp. 23-26.)
Professor Maduabuch Dukor (2010: p. 27) consummates this
philosophical quest for justice for the African woman by giving
an insight which is as mysterious as it is cosmological and on-
tological thus:
The relation of man to woman in African context is cul-
tural and metaphysical. Just like the Genesis account of
creation, African cosmology and ontology see the concept
of womanhood as an extraction from the concept of man-
hood. Similarly, social and political organizations are
culturally patterned to reflect the mystery and superiority
of manhood. Justice is also maintained in the communal
ownership of lands and landed properties and their equi-
table distributions.
Gender discourse in African philosophy has been tainted by
what Professor Dukor calls its “loss of focus because of the
tendency to leave out the gaps in culture created by colonial
experience, modernity’s assaults and un-africanness in ontology
and essence” (147). He goes on to state that: “the fulcrum for a
legitimate feminist doctrine is theistic humanism, the philoso-
phy of African philosophy that exposes the epistemological and
metaphysical basis of rightful and ethical place of women in the
society without injury, injustice and abuse on womanhood.
Theistic humanism as an ontology and cosmology abhors class
struggle between husbands and wives, sons and daughters etc.
Class struggle between men and women degenerated from the
oneness of being ontology and gender community where hus-
bands and wives were happily married with different comple-
mentary social roles for the preservation of society ”. In essence
his unique contributions to gender discourse is based on the
superstructure of humanism and African theism that validates
and sustains the concept feminine justice, gender balance nd
gives womanhood gender value in the social context. However
it is to be noted that postmodernism, colonialism, post moder-
nity and globalization have distorted and created problems with
this pure gender concept suffused with African values. This has
created the problems of gender injustice and marital instability
which are fundamentally common social problems resulting
from western civilization and values.
African Identity, Challenges and
Globalization—Gender Injustice
As we could infer from the foregoing, Professor Dukor has
excavated the truth that the search for African identity and core
values has revealed the crisis of modern African wherein the
continent and its children have deserted the core values that
define our identity and that would have sustained its people un
der the surge of globalization. This means going back to our
Africanness and basing our conceptions and actions on the
superstructure of theistic humanism which restores our purity
and identity. This should constitute a change in paradigm in
inquiry and methodological approach to the challenges of gen-
der injustice in the context of globalization. This is what I have
defined as an African perspective. Such African social scien-
tific approach to African identity, gender science, culture and
personality are regarded to be part of a concerted struggle to
question and challenge Western effort to suppress and dominate
Africans, their philosophy and identity in the face of globaliza-
tion. It is further intended to be used by African scholars in the
social sciences to be theoretically and methodologically wholis-
tic in protecting, promoting and liberating Africans from an-
other bout of neocolonization and help the African man and
woman to focus on the need for Africans to rediscover who
they are, what values they have and what should be the ideal
principles that define gender relations in the continent. This is
what Professor Dukor has succeeded in doing by preparing the
philosophical, ontological, methodological grounds that would
define a new way of redefining gender ideology, relationships
and justice systems independent of the imposed and assimilated
Western values, philosophy, ways of thinking, behaving and
socio-economic management. In other words, he challenges
African scholars to be ontologically and cosmologically vibrant,
dynamic and relevant in solving problems of modernity and
In attempting to redefine this African perspectives and
methods to globalization and modern problems, Lassiter (1997)
gives another supportive thesis and explains why there is ten-
dency by scholars emerging from the intimidating psychology
of neocolonial scholarship are afraid to apply and work with
this value and ontology based perspective which is purely Af-
From the early sixties to the present, African scholars out-
side the social sciences have consistently claimed that
there have been, are and will continue to be widespread
psychological and cultural themes and patterns that there
are unique to sub-Saharan Africa. They also argue that
these broad themes and patterns are undergoing rapid
change in a similar manner and most often for the worse
throughout most of the continent. The strength of their
commitment to these concepts is reflected in the fact that
the scholars persist in their efforts despite a historical in-
tellectual context that eschews such inquiry. This survey
reveals they have done so to clarify and extol the virtues
of what it means to be African in the face of increasing
global Westernization, and to identify and promote the
importance of “Africanness” in African national and re-
gional development. African scholars also seek to reassert
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Africa’s importance in the broader philosophical and cul-
tural evolution of humankind. Although some of the
works contain significant methodological shortcomings
which will be addressed below, most of the scholars’ as-
sertions and arguments are well-reasoned and extremely
compelling. South African Professor and former Deputy
Vice-Chancellor at the University of the Witswatersrand
M. W. Makgoba (1997), using a more practical and prob-
lem-focused approach to bring matters back to the social
scientists, sees a prominent and practical role for African
social scientists in the post-colonial reconstruction of Af-
rica. He writes: Africa has faced some of the great social
changes in this century in terms of race, ethnicity, politics,
violence, labour relations and industrialisation. Graduates
in the social sciences are going to be a critical component
to the success of African democracies as they struggle to
emerge from the mess in which they have been. Universi-
ties are not only essential for the training and nurturing of
highly-skilled scholars in this area, but are poised to make
a unique contribution to the overall development of post-
colonial Africa.
Thus post modernism and globalization could be said to have
created the current problems of modern gender injustice and
crisis of African identity. The modern justice systems in Afri-
can are colonially inspired and most are yet to be reformed in
reflection of the core African theistic human values of justice.
These theistic human values of justice are what would give
African womanhood and gender concepts a renewed rigor in
analytical purity resulting in new institutions and social struc-
tures that would create a new gender balance and justice. This
will make case for new African indigenous justice system that
would institutionalize the idea and doctrine of African based
jurisprudential system that give genuine control of African
justice institutions to Africans and be used to achieve transfor-
mative justice for all. The difference between African concept
of justice, which is ontologically theistic and humanistic, and
the western concept, which is individualistic and exclusive
(One person wins and others lose), is well brought out by El-
echi Okoh (2005) in his “human rights and the African indige-
nous justice system paper:
Despite the dominant position of African states in social
control, African indigenous institutions of social control
remain relevant in the affairs of the people. This is espe-
cially so in the rural areas of Africa where the majority of
the people reside. African peoples’ disappointment with
the colonial sponsored justice system, derive mostly from
their perception of the system’s concept and practice as
alien, and prone to abuse and corruption, and antithetical
to the African concept and practice of justice. African in-
digenous justice system employs restorative and trans-
formative principles in conflict resolution. Victims, of-
fenders and the entire community are involved and par-
ticipate in the definition of harm and search for resolution
acceptable to all stakeholders. This position overlooks the
inher ent diff erences in world- view, and t he role of cul ture
in the conception and administration of justice. Findings
from this study indicate that the restoration of rights, dig-
nity, interests and wellbeing of victims, offenders, and the
entire community is the goal of African indigenous justice
system … Again, the victims’ needs for information, vali-
dation, social support, vindication, are the starting points
of African justice.
Theistic humanistic paradigm of African gender discourse
flows from African gender philosophy which is its unique jus-
tice system that derives from the unity of consciousness or
wholistic personality of the African. What constitutes this who-
listic personality and dialectical link to African concept of gen-
der has been further illuminated by Dukor (2010: p. 159):
Philosophy analytically and intuitively captures in wholis-
tic manner the human personality as a product of culture;
the empiricist and positivist comprehension of feminist
ideology is largely empirical and non-supernatural, while
the African and the rationalist understanding of feminism
is based on God’s creation that created woman’s nature
in man’s nature. The metaphysical foundation of feminist
discourse in pre-colonial African philosophy is therefore
that man and woman are two separate species in one, in
the generic sense but physically endowed with different
One can surmise that the theistic humanistic paradigm is ef-
fectively related to and derives authenticity from the African
values of justice, freedom, equity and fairness between the man
and woman in the society. Thus while the western doctrine of
sexism and sexuality are imploding with the idea of a recurring
conflict between men and women that makes their relationship
adversarial and exclusive in metaphysical functionality the
African gender approach is existentially inclusive, supportive,
cooperative and metaphysical derived from the African value of
respect and worship of the earth as mother which is refered to
as “mother earth” (Dukor, 2010: p. 151). Thus the ascribed
problems which western women liberation see as the traditional
problems of women in the world today are foreign to African
gender discourse and philosophy since they are since as self
inflicted, semantical linguistic and philosophically un-African.
One can state with emphatic authenticity with Professor
Maduabuchi Dukor (148) that “postcolonial and contemporary
developments and modernist dispositions in Africa have
brought with them additional problems to feminism. According
to Professor Dukor, “such problems as women abuse with clubs
and kanes, excessive rate of divorce, marital litigations, women
slavery to foreign countries, rape, sexual harassment, the class
struggle between men and women were added dimension in the
plight of women in Africa; the problem of gender discrimina-
tion either does not exist in African social structure or culture
or is not understood properly as post colonial social and onto-
logical aberration. This is the reason for the current investiga-
tions into gender related concepts historically and contextually
in Black Africa”. This African perspective and inquiry into the
challenges facing gender injustice and mainstreaming will “go
beyond the political, sociological, anthropological and cultural
approaches that gloss the existential import of every status,
desert and relational calculus that underline the creative and
justiceable relations between man and woman and consequent
interests, actio ns and a b u se s ” .
Dukor, M. (2002). Philosophy and politics: Discourse on values, poli-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 183
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
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